Putin’s Russia will suffer many more combat casualties than it has already suffered
When it comes to a country’s ability to make sacrifices, a benchmark is needed. For today’s Russia, the most suitable model is the so-called “People’s Republics of Donbass” – Donetsk and Lugansk.
At the beginning of last year, a successful mobilization was carried out there, which was a sign that mobilization is also possible and feasible in the Russian Federation. That’s what happened in the fall. The losses of the contingents formed in the “LDNR” were very high and now it was necessary to limit their participation in the fighting. The scale of these casualties suggests the level of losses that today’s Russia is able to withstand.
A month ago, the Russian BBC service, which together with Mediazon keeps a list of fallen Russian soldiers, estimated the losses of Donbass plenipotentiaries at 6.5 thousand. killed. (5,000 soldiers from the DPR and 1,500 from the ŁPR). This corresponds to fragmentary information coming from the Donbass. In December, DNR officials reported 4,200 dead and four times that number wounded.
If we assume the minimum number of losses of Donbas proxies as of today, amounting to 7 thousand. the level of 250-300 thousand people. With all the conventions of these calculations, they give an idea of u200bu200bthe scale of possibilities.
How many have already died
The Ukrainian General Staff reports in its reports about 160,000 Russians killed and increases their number by 500-1,000 people every day. These calculations have no external confirmation. It is wisest to treat them in the same way as any belligerent country’s tales of enemy losses.
in news Western analytical and intelligence structures appear to be more moderate. For example, the American Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) believes that 60,000-70,000 people died in Ukraine. Russians (including proxies). This is more than the combined losses of the USSR and the Russian Federation in all their wars and conflicts after World War II (almost 50,000). But CSIS does not disclose the details of its methodology.
Therefore, for the time being, the most reliable source remains the previously mentioned unique project of Mediazona and the BBC. On their list of deceased Russians (without a proxy) after the last update, there are 16,674 names. This list is compiled based on public reports of military deaths – online posts by relatives, news in regional media, etc.
The losses of the Russian Federation are definitely higher than those 16.7 thousand. The investigators themselves cautiously point out that “the real number of victims may be several times higher.” Most likely double. We agree with this and multiply the given number by two. We receive 33.5 thousand.
Then the losses of the Russian side, including the killed proxies of Donbas (over 7,000) and adding a few thousand missing, they will approach 50,000. Such an estimate cannot claim precision, but it does give an idea of the scale of what is going on.
No signs of crisis
Now we can answer the question of whether such losses can shake Russia enough to convince it of the need to end this war.
On the one hand, these casualties are already twice as high as three times greater than Soviet losses in the Afghan adventure or Russian (federal) losses in any of the Chechen wars. On the other hand, they are five or six times lower than the “ceiling” of victims, which has already been reached in Donbas and has not sparked a rebellion there.
The list that investigators keep will help us understand a few more details.
Currently, there are 112 Muscovites killed there, and St. Petersburg – 149. This is four to five times less than, for example, people from the Sverdlovsk, Buryat, Kuban or Chelyabinsk regions. In addition, capital cities are less likely to not count their fallen residents than anywhere else. For residents of Moscow and St. Petersburg, the Putin blood tax is not as difficult as for others.
There is no need to look for cunning tactics of the regime behind it, such things come out by themselves. But the result is obvious. There has been and will be less in the center of discontent over the dead, simply because there are far fewer dead.
One can imagine that someday Putin will have difficulties with ethnic autonomy – with Buryatia, Bashkortostan and Dagestan. Their losses are noticeably higher than average. But now, and there, there are no signs of a crisis.
Now let’s look at the structure of the losses themselves in the last two or three months. Due to attempts by Putin and his generals to turn the tide of the war, the number of weekly casualties increased. But who dies most often? Of those killed whose status has been established, more than a third are prisoners driven by Prigozhin and “free” PMC fighters. The share of those mobilized is about a quarter. The rest of the dead are ordinary soldiers and volunteers.
This means that the people of Prigogine shed the most blood. Among them, 2.6 thousand have already been identified. killed – prisoners and “free”. If we assume that their actual losses are twice as high (5-6,000), then about half of the estimated 50,000 that Prigozhin brought to Ukraine left the ranks with the wounded.
Among those mobilized, it was possible to identify 1.5 thousand. killed. Even if their total number is underestimated more than average, and there is reason to believe so, the real death toll among them is unlikely to exceed 4,000. This is from 300,000 called up in the fall. This means that the vast majority of “mobs” are alive and not even injured. Let’s be realistic: in today’s Russia, such losses will not be perceived as unbearable.
The blood tax on different categories of Russians varies, and those layers that are able to exert at least some pressure on the regime are clearly weaker. Not to mention the fact that the nomenclature is completely and unconditionally exempt from sending their sons to the front.
There is no reason to expect mass protests like those in the US during the Vietnam War. Their experience is not for the Russian Federation. The activists of the anti-war movement were people from educated and poor families. In any case, they joined the army less often and avoided it more easily. The main part of the dead was taken by American “deep people” who endured sacrifices for quite a long time and remained loyal.
And there are no other people in the Russian Federation now. Any anti-war movement is completely incompatible with the existing regime. Those who were able to attend understood this and left.
It is impossible to predict what will happen in a few years, but in the short and medium term, Putin has no reason to worry about his back. You can still lead prisoners to slaughter. They haven’t finished yet. One or two waves of mobilization are quite possible.
The country will endure many more tens, if not hundreds of thousands of dead. Therefore, the fate of this war will be decided not on the Russian rear, but on the Ukrainian fronts.